Personal motivations are important, particularly in grassroots activist groups which rely on the people taking part to be willing to do the things the group has decided to do. Too often however, grassroots groups form plans without considering individuals' motivations, visions and resources. And, given the fact that people in grassroots groups may come and go, it is important to include space to get to know people, and explore why they belong to the group or came to the meeting, what they can offer, what they expect from the group, and what they hope for on behalf of the movement as a whole. We are also all in different places on the journey in understanding the issue and our way of campaigning. Our personal theories of change – how we think change is achieved – and our views of what action or strategy will be effective, may be different, as may those of different groups within the movement. While there will be a degree of overlap in our concerns and motivations – otherwise we wouldn't have come together – some of our reasons for having done so and of how best to address the issue at hand are going to be different. While these differences can be a source of tension and conflict, they are also the ingredients for a vibrant group and movement, when we overcome them.
To illustrate the diversity of motivations which might bring someone to a conscientious objection movement, we have included the personal accounts of members of different conscientious objection groups, and movements in different parts of the world. These personal accounts deal with the question of why their authors turned to conscientious objection and are followed by material on how to reach decisions by consensus, as one way of working constructively with such diversity of motivations.